Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Tom Lawlor had to come out of UFC 154 as one of the most disappointed fighters on the show. He had a boring fight, something he is the first to admit, and then lost the decision to Francis Carmont that the vast majority of people believed he won.
On the flip side, he still garnered more attention than most on the show. Whether good or bad, most references to Lawlor were for his creativity outside the cage, a comedic sumo demonstration at the public workouts, and his unique entrances both for his fight. That's even more so true for the weigh-ins the day before.
"There's only so many ways people can hit mitts," said Lawlor on The MMA Hour in an interview with Ariel Helwani, when asked about idea No. 1 of the week called, "Sumo Suave." "If you put me in that situation, I'm going to do something different. One of the things we get told by the brass at UFC is to market ourselves. Some people do that with trash talking. Some people do it with their fighting ability. Unfortunately, I'm not good in either, so I have to come up with outlandish ideas."
Self-deprecating humor aside, Lawlor (8-5, 1 no-contest) comes from the school of thought that even if he wins, there are few things worse than a boring fight. But there's probably not a lot worse than a boring fight that you think you won, and having it go down as a loss. Lawlor hasn't even watched the fight back. When it comes to the decision, he's more relying on what people have told him, and the fact that when it was over, in no way did he feel like he was just in a fight. He called the fight boring and said only one person came to fight.
"That's what bothers me," said Lawlor. "I'd have been happier being choked out in two-and-a-half minutes like with Chris Weidman than with this loss."
"My forearms are really swollen, really sore, I was thinking I might have to retire and join Kyle Kingsbury in becoming a fireman due to all the damage from the four body kicks I blocked from Carmont," he joked about the punishment in the fight.
"I guess they feel stifling someone and defending means more than attempting submissions, trying to push the pace and trying to get him down. I don't want to say anything. I read a report that all three judges were American, so I don't think you can call it a hometown decision. It's hard to say why I lost. Maybe they bought into the Francis Carmont hype."
The reaction of the crowd told a story. When Carmont, who is from Montreal, was announced as the winner, the local fans booed the decision.
"I looked at some of the media reporters play-by-play, and what actually happened during the fight," he said. "Most of the media outlets had me winning. The crowd seemed to be in my favor, which was surprising to me."
With his mediocre record in the cage, Lawlor has made a name for himself with his other antics during fight week. But while he or partner in crime Seth Petruzelli, a former UFC fighter, may bat around ideas, the decisions on what to do aren't made until they get into town. He was in Montreal looking for the right outfit for his nerd gimmick on Saturday night. And his weigh-in gimmick, a spoof on a pro wrestling incident from 1993, was something he talked about for some time, but was dependent upon his finding a storm trooper helmet and mask in Montreal.
"I wanted to do the Team America theme (for his walkout music), but that got shot down," he said about his fight ring entrance. "I thought about coming out to Weird Al's 'Canadian Idiot', but I didn't want to offend every Canadian in the crowd. I let Seth Petruzelli take over. I guess there are some cool fashionable shops in Montreal and they had nerdy looking clothes. We said we should do that song and come out like nerds."
The most talked about of his skits was at weigh-ins, when he tripped and fell down coming out of the curtain, as a spoof of the debut of the character The Shock Master in World Championship Wrestling in 1993. He suggested the idea to UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, who was a big wrestling fan growing up, at the weigh-ins for his May 15 fight with Jason MacDonald.
The Shock Master was Fred Ottman, a 6-foot-6, 375-pounder, who was debuting and scheduled to be introduced on a live prime time television special designed to make him a fearsome good-guy monster headliner. He was to become a mystery partner in a big match for Sting, a top star of the era. The idea was he would be introduced as a powerhouse by breaking through a stage wall. But instead, he tripped, fell through the wall with his helmet flying off.The main event push was dead on arrival, but it became a legendary screw up in that industry.
"When Joe Silva knew who The Shock Master was and remembered it, I had to do it," he said.
"I was paying homage to a guy who would be most popularly known as Tugboat from the old WWF," Lawlor said about his memory of the incident from when he was ten years old. "But he was immortalized as The Shock Master from the early WCW days, before WCW was really popular. They hyped this guy coming out as The Shock Master. I think it was a great gimmick. Let's throw a fat guy in a storm trooper helmet and bedazzle it, and have him come out with a crappy cape on. He was fortunate enough to trip over a 2x4 or something, and he provided us with one of the best moments in not just sports entertainment history, but entertainment history."
It was an obscure references that almost nobody in the crowd understood, but of course it exploded in the twitter world instantly from those who did. Most fans actually thought he had tripped coming out, as opposed to taking the pratfall on purpose.
"No one knew," he said, even though Joe Rogan set the skit up by saying that Lawlor was going to shock the world. "Honestly, if my corner men weren't my friends and I hadn't forced them to watch the video 100 times, they would have had no clue. Mark Hominick told me he looked it up afterwards and thought it was great. Very few people knew."
Of course the problem is that such antics are now expected from him at every show, meaning he not only has to come to every show ready to fight, but filled with ideas.
"Yeah, there's a catch-22," he said. "It's tough coming up with my ideas and trying to top it. I'm done trying to top the Dan Severn impersonation. That seems to be the most popular one. This one almost didn't come to fruition because I was afraid I wasn't going to find a storm trooper mask in Montreal."
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